The Learning Never Stops

Written with love, by Karley Kiker

If I had to pick a movie title that best describes marriage, one of the first that comes to mind is The Neverending Story. There are endless opportunities to learn, grow, and develop both as an individual and as a couple inside the context of marriage. As I've worked on this column over the last few months I've had "opportunities" to stretch and develop even more than usual, and by that I mean I've constantly seen my own weaknesses exposed as I've attempted to help strengthen the relationships of others. It's humbling to look in the mirror and realize that, after just submitting a blog post on dying to self and putting your spouse first, you've spent the day completely consumed by your wants, your needs, your plans, your priorities. In other words? I'm no more of an expert on this thing called marriage than anyone reading this column—I just jumped on the chance to document what I'm learning in and on the journey! Here's what I've seen so far.

 The Learning Never Stops - Marriage Advice, Marriage Blog

On my worst days, I'm selfish and self-seeking, sometimes even actively looking for fault in the way my husband loves and serves me; saying things like "I deserve better than this" in my head (or under my breath). On my good days, I'm giving love in response to being loved; having fun and laughing and making memories and being thankful for the gift God has given us in marriage. But on my best days, I'm loving Taylor like my Savior has loved me. Pursuing his heart. Seeing him for who he really is. Celebrating what makes him come alive. Speaking life and truth into him when he can't see or feel those things for himself. Looking for ways to serve him. Forgiving him without holding on to hurt and offense.

"When you know, you know."

I heard it so many times in reference to the daunting prospect of determining if a potential husband was "the one", but I never understood what it meant until the knowing actually happened.

"What do you mean, I'll just know? Will something change physically? Will I hear an audible voice? Will I suddenly mature out of Disney movies, calling my mom three times a day, feeling awkward while alone in public, and avoiding laundry for as long as possible, and instantly be able to visualize myself throwing dinner parties, doing expert wine and cheese pairings, actually making the bed, and birthing 2.5 children?"

For me, mostly, the answer to all of the above proved to be a resounding no. Weirdly, though, something did happen physically during the I-know that-I-know moment. 

Taylor and I were sitting on the beach talking. Adventure, travel, dreams, plans. But mostly, Jesus. No matter which topic we landed on, everything was Him, because He was the lens. In my own life, I've seen again and again that there's no adventure better than the one He's planned. No travel experience can bring the kind of ultimate fulfillment, joy, and satisfaction He does. No dreams have life without Him, no plans have merit without His orchestration. When I realized that Taylor saw life like this—no separation between his faith and his day-to-day, his decisions informed and his perceptions shaped by Christ—it's like a spear went through my soul.

There is not really an elegant way to say that, because it was not gentle. It was sudden, sharp, and intense—like a valve or a switch flipped on that enabled me to recognize and know and see Taylor in a deeper way than what our surface conversation could have enabled me to. The whole thing literally took my breath away. I remember actually gasping at one point because I was so flooded by the overwhelming desire to lay my head on his shoulder, see a thousand sunsets sitting right beside him, gain access to the emotional space he kept so well-guarded, pour salve into wounds he carried that had not healed, speak truth over any lies that held his mind captive, and protect and nurture his dreams until all of them came true.

As Taylor's wife, I now have the opportunity to do each and every one of these things on a daily basis...and yet so often in the day-to-day of an ordinary life lived side-by-side, I choose to fill my time with what's mundane over what's eternal. Too often I forget that marriage isn't just an institution meant to bring me personal happiness and companionship, but a sacred endeavor in mutual sanctification. More and more I see that marriage is deep ministry; the kind that scrapes down, shakes up, carves out, and digs in to everything that hurts in order to bring about wholeness. Or at least it can be, if we're willing to go there with our spouse and if they're willing to do likewise.

In the moment that I realized Taylor was "the one", I saw him. Not just the him that he is right now, but a flash of who he's going to be when he's walking in the fullest expression of who and what the Lord created him to be. The Taylor I caught a glimpse of was stunning in every sense of the word—assured yet humble, wide open, blazing with the knowledge of the Father's love for him, confident in the calling upon his life. And as the years go by and three years of togetherness turns into 30, it's my deepest hope that through marriage, I'll help reveal what's been inside of him all along, and that he'll do the same for me. That together, we would reflect the astounding love the Father has lavished upon us to the praise and glory of His name.

Am I there yet? No. But together, we're pushing forward in this neverending story...and we're grateful for every minute of it.